A3 Report Template
A3 Template to apply A3 thinking and the Lean A3 Problem Solving Method
Download your free A3 template
which is not just a trial,
but is a gift
that you can use
for the rest of your career
The A3 template is one of the most popular tools in your lean tool kit.
Types of A3 Reports
This same A3 template can be used in MANY diverse ways:
A3 Problem Solving
The most common way to use your A3 template is for A3 Problem Solving
(as explained in the training lower this page)
A3 Decision Making
No matter which decision making tools and methods you use,
your A3 template provides a ideal way to "tell your story"
of what problems were faced, what options were considered, and why you made your choice.
Three More Types of A3 Storyboards
Every lean tool needs
The Proposal A3
to introduce opportunities and possible ways to capitalize on them
A3 as a Team Charter
because it so clearly "tells the story"
The Status A3
No matter which lean management system you are using,
To see examples of many diverse types of A3 Reports — refer to the books in our Suggested Reading.
Lean A3 Template
The A3 Report is a simple storyboard that tells the whole story of an improvement event on one large sheet of paper.
(The international A3 paper size is 297 x 420 millimeters. In the United States, 11 x 17 inch paper is used.)
The left side defines the problem — the right side proposes solutions
Sample A3 Report example. Download your free A3 template
A good A3 should tell a story — bringing a problem to life and pointing the way to a better future.
Excel Tip: View > Two Pages
How to use your A3 Template
Find and open your template
Find and open your A3 Report template (A3Report.docx)
in the same way that you find and open your other 150+ Systems2win templates.
If your company does not yet own a license, you can download your free A3 template now.
Your A3 template is a Word template
Even though most of your 150+ Systems2win templates are written using Microsoft Excel,
Why? Because Microsoft Word provides unmatched flexibility
and any experience lean professional who has ever seen more than a dozen A3 Reports knows that it is rare for any two to look alike
You can use everything you know about familiar Microsoft Word
And our Microsoft Word training
Obtain approval to begin your A3 project
Use your A3 Approvals template (A3Approvals.xlsx)
to identify decision makers and stakeholders
and to obtain the first column of approvals for 'Authorization to Begin This Project'
See training for your A3 Approvals template... (lower on this page)
On the Left Side of your A3 Report
Define the Problem
Replace the Title
Replace the Report Title at the top of the left page
with a succinct summary of the theme or challenge that is the purpose of this A3 Report.
How to use Form Fields in Microsoft Word
Wherever you see any block of instructional text,
In any Systems2win template, text encased in brackets <like this>
To also highlight form fields even more (with a grey background color), see our Microsoft Word training.
Replace the Revised Date and Author Name
A3 Reports are intended to change very rapidly.
Keep your Revised Date current.
Keep track of Approvals
On the same line next to Revised Date and Author Name,
there is a simple visual system to indicate when each of the 4 phases of A3 Approvals have been completed.
Simply enter an X next to the phase number as each phase of approvals is completed.
And you can edit the hyperlink on the link icon,
so that users of your A3 Report can instantly drill down to see exactly who approved what
in the A3 Approvals document that corresponds with this A3 Report.
Background and Importance
This section is only needed if the Title does not sufficiently define the problem, and why change is needed.
Go to the gemba to observe for yourself what is actually happening.
Perhaps use your A3 Gemba Interview template.
Perhaps use one your Process Observation templates and techniques.
Perhaps just observe and ask questions.
Always bring a printed copy of your (ever-changing) A3 Report on a clipboard.
Hand write what you observe and discuss at the gemba.
Then later, back in your office...
transcribe (and clarify) your hand written notes
onto your (electronic) master A3 Storyboard.
Print. Observe & discuss. Clean up. Repeat.
See training for how to set up your printer
Then use graphs, numbers, and facts
to clearly depict the As Is state in a way that invites analytic questions.
Common tools for illustrating A3 Report Current and Desired Conditions...
Any type of
Anything you can
Learn several easy ways to copy screen shots to your A3 Storyboards
Perhaps use Hyperlinks in your A3 Report
On an A3 size sheet of paper, there is very little room to tell a complex story.
One popular way to provide more details is to use a small illustration of highly summarized data, and then provide a hyperlink to allow users to drill down to the detailed source documents.
Or you might show an (almost unreadable) thumbnail,
Which is pretty much the only way
Root Cause Analysis
Go back to the gemba. Keep asking "why?"
What are the root causes for problems?
Then succinctly summarize Root Causes in this section of your A3 Report.
Perhaps link to the Root Cause Fishbone Diagram that your team used >>>>>
Goals and Targets
What specific outcomes are desired?
Don't write, but be prepared to answer: "Why these goals & these targets?"
Use your A3 Approvals document to obtain approvals from all identified decision makers and stakeholders
to ensure that everyone agrees that you have thoroughly clarified the problem and its root causes.
Don't jump to solutions
Perhaps the single most important reason for the existence of the A3 Problem Solving Method is to avoid jumping to proposed solutions before thoroughly defining the root problems.
Do not touch a single pencil mark on the right side of your A3 Report
On the Right Side of your A3 Report
Use this section of the A3 Report to clearly depict the Desired state
and the gap between current & desired.
It is always best to use illustrations, not just words,
to activate the intuitive, creative, problem solving side of the brain.
Again... go to the gemba.
Ask everyone for their ideas for proposed actions to prevent recurrence of each root cause.
Let them watch you hand write their ideas on a printed copy of your (ever-changing) A3 Report.
Due to limited space, not every idea will remain on the final version of your A3, but
your goal at this stage is to honestly listen to every stakeholder's ideas
and to ensure that they feel that their ideas have been honestly heard
And then, once everyone's ideas have been heard and expanded upon...
Take time to pause, ponder, reflect, and think.
It would be such a waste to go through all of this effort of the A3 Problem Solving Method
only to fumble the ball on the 1 yard line because you skipped
the single most important step of the entire process
And then, once you and your team have taken time to reflect...
Use this section of the A3 Report to document
those proposed countermeasures that pass group evaluation.
Note: If you don't need the table, delete it.
This is your A3 Storyboard!
Before moving on to the 'Implementation Plan' section of your A3 Report,
you must first obtain all required approvals in the 'Countermeasures' column of your A3 Approvals form.
Again... the table is optional.
Perhaps replace it with a short summary of your implementation plan,
and a miniature summary image that might allow the user to drill down to your detailed plan.
Before begining to actually implement your 'Implementation Plan',
you must first obtain all required approvals in the 'Authorization to Implement' column of your A3 Approvals form.
the final 'Implementation Plan' section of your A3 Report
can optionally be replaced with an 'Effect Confirmation' section
with periodic measures to confirm that the countermeasures are yielding acceptable results
Use the 'Periodic Review' column of your A3 Approvals
If results are not acceptable,
then that should trigger a new PDCA cycle
You can copy and paste columns for addtional Periodic Reviews
as many times as it takes until your 'Desired Target Conditions' become observable measureable realities.
Bookmark = printer
Use your A3 template with any printer
The Systems2win A3 Report template can be used with ANY printer (or plotter).
Here's how to do it...
The standard template starts with two 8 1/2 x 11 pages
If all you have is a small printer...
Simply select your PDF Writer as your printer
For a printer that is capable of printing 11x17 or A3 paper...
File > Print > Printer:
select a printer or PDF writer
File > Print > Page Setup, or...
Word 2007: Page Layout Tab >
If you have not yet installed free PDF writing software
The (vastly inferior) PDF writing feature that comes with Microsoft Office
is not capable of printing 2 pages per sheet,
Bookmark = approval
Lean A3 Approval System
Purpose of your A3 Approval template
Jim Womack coined the term "kanban democracy"
to describe how a well-designed A3 approval system
is able to systematically empower any motivated competent person
to quickly and efficiently obtain approval to become the champion
to lead an A3 problem solving project to conceive and implement countermeasures to a problem.
Your A3 Approvals template
provides a clearly-defined repeatable visual system
to define approvals needed, obtained, and still missing
in a way that makes it easy to understand and follow the scientific method.
How to use your A3 Approval template
Find, open, and save
Find and open your A3 Approvals template (A3Approvals.xlsx)
the same way that you find and open every one of your other 150+ Systems2win templates.
Save it in the same folder with your A3 Report
following the same best practices that you always use for document storage and naming.
Identify Decision Makers and Stakeholders
Identify the people with authority to make final decisions for any proposed changes.
Identify all Stakeholders that might be affected. (groups and individuals)
Obtain approvals to Begin This Project
Work with the Mentor and primary decision-makers
to choose representatives for each affected stakeholder group.
Perhaps grey out cells if an approval is not required for every phase.
As demonstrated in the sample data on the Sample worksheet
for the HR Manager that does not want to participate in Periodic Reviews
Obtain approvals at each stage
As you go through the 4 stages
of the A3 Problem Solving Process,
use this Approvals document to:
- formalize consensus
that the root problems have been identified
- formalize consensus that all countermeasures have been sufficiently explored
- remind people of the participation they have had in the shared ownership of the proposed changes that will require everyone's commitment to implement.
As approvals are completed for each phase, also keep your A3 Report updated
with a brief summary of approvals needed and obtained.
Perform Periodic Reviews
After the initial implementation has been completed,
schedule the date for the first Periodic Review.
If results do not meet expectations,
keep scheduling Periodic Reviews until the desired results prove to be sustainable.
It is okay to add short Comments,
but most comments should be documented
in the Results Metrics document associated with this project
which has a system for recording
much more detailed results of periodic reviews.
Bookmark = Method
The A3 Problem Solving Method
Much more than just a tool, A3 Problem Solving is a simple method to systematically:
- Define and solve problems
- Teach managers how to better coach, mentor, and lead
- Instill a way of 'A3 thinking'
that causes entire teams of people to sharply focus their minds
on the foundational Lean ways of seeing process flows and wastes —
constantly redirecting their attention back to the foundational Lean teachings:
- Empower people to implement their great ideas
The A3 Problem Solving Method
In addition to the standard training for how to use your A3 template, (above)
your lean leaders are also encouraged to edit
your A3 Problem Solving Method template (A3SOP.docx)
which is designed to serve as an excellent starting point
to for your leaders to edit and revise
for your own A3 Problem Solving Method
and then publish and distribute that (personalized) PDF
to provide thorough guidance for how to do A3 Problem Solving
following your company's own unique policies.
Benefits of A3 Thinking
- Provide a single, easy-to-use approach for solving ANY type of problem
- Encourage people to identify problems
- Stimulate group dialog and creative problem-solving
- Break people of the bad habit of jumping to solutions before defining root causes
- Empower the people closest to the work
Is it your job to put out fires?
or to prevent them?
- Encourage managers to manage the means of production
- Instill an organizational culture of "learning to learn"
- Groom new leaders in a scientifically repeatable way
- Provide a systematic logical thinking process
The PowerPoint alternative to a Status A3 Report
Process Improvement Tools
Should we make or buy?
Make or buy?
An A3 Status Report has several advantages over PowerPoint:
- The entire presentation is on one page — communicating faster and more holistically
- It forces a more concise and systematic thought process when preparing the report
- It is more easily archived and distributed —
along with all other documents related to the project
(usually in PDF format, which is readable to everyone)
As an alternative (or supplement) to an A3 Status Report,
many teams for Kaizen Events, Value Stream Events,
and other types of process improvement projects
will prefer to use their PowerPoint Presentation of Results template (eventResults.pptx)
which several advantages over an A3 Status Report.
Bookmark = Readings
Suggested Readings for A3 Thinking
To learn more about A3 management, and see many examples of A3 reports, we suggest the following books & resources:
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